Doctor Faustus (comics)
Art by Mike Perkins
|First appearance||Captain America (v1) #107 (Nov 1968)|
|Created by||Stan Lee
|Alter ego||Johann Fennhoff|
|Team affiliations||Secret Empire
|Notable aliases||Doctor Faustus, Master of Men's Minds, Edward Marlowe|
|Abilities||Expert in psychological warfare|
Faustus' name comes from the famous character of Christopher Marlowe's Renaissance play The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus about a man who sold his soul to Lucifer in exchange for 24 years of service from a devil called Mephistophiles in order to gain all knowledge. This character predates the Christopher Marlowe play, in the legend built around the real-life Johann Georg Faust.
Fictional character biography
Johann Fennhoff was born in Vienna, Austria. He became a psychiatrist and criminal mastermind. He has proclaimed himself the "Master of Men's Minds," and is known for the use of psychological methods of combat. His plots typically involve manipulating his foes into positions where they will, essentially, kill themselves.
In his first appearance, Faustus induced nightmares and hallucinations in Steve Rogers in an attempt to drive him insane. However, he was easily bested in a physical confrontation. It was later revealed that he had been treating the amnesiac Peggy Carter, and captured Sharon Carter and her parents in an attempt to destroy Captain America. Faustus then acquired stolen weapons from Stark International with which he planned to threaten New York City, and organized a private flight of American criminals; however this plan was thwarted by Captain America.
Faustus was briefly able to control Spider-Man and use him in an attempt to introduce a "psychogenic additive" to a flu vaccine (which would permit hypnotic control of the public), but he was defeated.
Faustus was the mastermind behind the neo-Nazi group National Force, directing them behind the scenes. He was responsible for the creation of the villain known as the Grand Director to lead the National Force, as well as brainwashing S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Sharon Carter and programming her to commit suicide (though Carter survived). Faustus also temporarily brainwashed Captain America and battled Cap and Daredevil. His legs were injured by falling gas canisters during this confrontation.
Faustus later mentally conditioned Everyman to be his operative, later known as Zeitgeist. He used his absorbascan to draw in psychic power from other people in an attempt to mentally defeat Mister Fantastic and prove his worth to the Secret Empire. Everyman subsequently battled Spider-Man and Mister Fantastic, using a ray to temporarily deprive Reed Richards of his intellect, but the two heroes were nevertheless able to prevail and restore Richards to normal after convincing Everyman that the absorbascan was weakening the people he was drawing energy from rather than simply linking him to them in a benevolent bond. When Richards subsequently sought Everyman's backer, Faustus attempted to drive him to die of despair by making it appear that he had killed the rest of the Fantastic Four using elaborate androids. The plan was to culminate in Faustus shooting Richards, reasoning that, by this point, Richards would be so broken that even a conventional bullet would kill him as he would want to die. However, Richards realized the true natures of Faustus's androids through various flaws and defeated his plan, apparently causing the psychiatrist- who had already been talking with a hallucination of his deceased mother throughout this scheme- to have a breakdown.
Having recovered from his breakdown, Faustus then allied with the Red Skull, and occupied the Skull's mansion. Faustus attempted to coerce Captain America into committing suicide through the use of ghostly holograms.
He was presumed dead for a number of years, but reappeared again, now living undercover as a S.H.I.E.L.D. psychiatrist, and in the employ of the Red Skull. Faustus is tasked with manipulating Sharon Carter, and claims responsibility for Carter's increasing romantic attachment to Captain America. Faustus is responsible for manipulating Sharon Carter into assassinating Captain America while she escorts him from the courtroom. It is further revealed that the Captain America from the 1950s remained alive in Faustus' possession, recuperating slowly, and he is reconditioned and sent against the new Captain America, James Barnes. The failure of this attack, and the ever-increasing vituperation of the Skull and Zola towards Faustus, causes him to withdraw from the project, but not before freeing Sharon Carter and giving crucial information about the Skull's plans to SHIELD.
Some time later, Falcon and Black Widow apprehended Faustus, who agrees to testify in Bucky's current trial for his actions as the Winter Soldier as an expert in both mind control and the Soldier's history in exchange for a presidential pardon. Steve Rogers subtly threatens him into accepting the official release of his role in thwarting the Skull's recent plans - thus encouraging judges to show him leniency in later cases - or Rogers would destroy that information and publicize the rest of his role in the assassination attempt. Forced to accept this deal, Faustus provides testimony in the trial, even subtly manipulating the prosecuting lawyer into attacking the judge to prove how overwhelming mind-control can be.[volume & issue needed]
Powers and abilities
Faustus has no superhuman powers but has a genius intellect, and is extremely charismatic and can modulate his voice in a highly persuasive manner. He has a doctorate in psychiatry.
Faustus regularly employs hologram projectors, hallucinogenic gas dispensers, androids, and elaborate props. He also hires henchmen to impersonate various people as a part of his scheme to affect his victims' minds.
Faustus has suffered extensive leg injuries, forcing him to use a cane or wheelchair for mobility. He can stand or walk without assistance for only a brief time.
In the Ultimate Marvel universe, Dr. Faustus is first seen in Ultimate Comics: Armor Wars. Johann Fennhoff became an information broker for the European underground superhuman mercenary community, stationing in Prague. At some point through an accident involving a dimensional portal, he wound up with a little entity living in his head.
House of M
In other media
- Doctor Faustus appears in the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends episode "Pawns of the Kingpin", voiced by Dennis Marks. He is depicted with a grey beard and balding grey hair wearing a long lab coat. He is employed by Wilson Fisk to construct the Psycho Disk and use it to brainwash Captain America and Iceman.
- Johann Fennhoff appears in Agent Carter, portrayed by Ralph Brown. He first appears under the alias of a prisoner named Dr. Ivchenko.
- Captain America #107 (Nov 1968)
- Captain America #161-162 (May-June 1973)
- Captain America #192 (Dec 1975)
- Amazing Spider-Man #170 (July 1977)
- Captain America #232-236 (Apr-May 1979)
- Marvel Team-Up #132-133 (Aug-Sep 1983)
- Captain America #326 (Feb 1987)
- Captain America (v5) #22 (Nov 2006)
- Captain America #25 (Apr 2007)
- Captain America (v.5) #40-41
- Captain America #612
- Ultimate Comics: Armor Wars #2
- New Thunderbolts #11
- Abrams, Natalie (February 18, 2015). "Agent Carter boss teases what's next after the big sacrifice". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 19, 2015.